Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stop, Look, and Listen

Despite the "Tibetan" name by which I am occasionally known -- which is actually more of a nom-de-plume, and guess what... I might be making a literary point about blind credulity -- and which is just one of several names by which I am known, you should be very clear that I don't consider myself a "tulku," and I really don't think you should either. I have tried to make that exquisitely clear in my various books, but for some reason, people want to create something that isn't there. Also, please don't offer to send me things, because there isn't anything I need. I particularly don't need donations, students, or the adoration of syncophants. If you enjoy reading this weblog, then just enjoy reading this weblog. Please don't drag me into your fantasies.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Prayer of Liberating Light

A Brief Practice to Benefit the
Victims of Sudden Death

Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche

with expanded commentary by
Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche


Beings who suffer violent death experience intense terror and illusion. This is particularly true of beings that die in wars, by weapons, by accident, or by suicide. Unless we act to help free them, their mind streams remain trapped in recurring cycles of long-lasting, fearful deceptions.

Recognizing that in the future such suffering would become prevalent, the Precious Lotus-born Guru, Padmasambhava, prescribed a prac-tice to awaken these beings. This practice then remained hidden for over six hundred years, awaiting the auspicious combination of circumstances for its revelation.

These circumstances came about in the fourteenth century, in the person of Lhodrag Namka Gyeltsen (1326-1402), a terma master of the Nyingma lineage, who discovered Padmasambhava’s concealed treasure and named it the prayer to Buddha Tsonchei Mijigpai Gyalpo.

In the twenty-first century, the eighth Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche composed a practice based on the revealed text, together with the oral com-mentaries of the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche, and H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. In Choegyal Rinpoche’s practice, Padmasambhava’s prayer to Tsonchei Mijigpai Gyalpo is conjoined with invocations of Akshobhya and Vajrapani. According to Rinpoche, this is done in conformance with the Rinchen Terdzod, the Akshobya Sutra, and the Zungsnatsog of Jamgong Mipham Rinpoche. Choegyal Rinpoche then published his work with an explicit transmission permission and special request that all Buddhists adopt the practice to help the dead.

Unfortunately, we all know of someone who has died suddenly and violently. This may be someone we have heard about, or it may even be someone we know personally, such as a friend or family member. Our knowledge also extends to entire classes of beings, such as those who have died in a given war, a given sort of accident, or by a particular weapon.

Often, our knowledge of such matters leaves a lingering imprint upon our consciousness and moves the heart in strange directions. We wish there was something we could do; yet, because we do not know what action to take, we become troubled and this leaves a type of stain. We know, vaguely, that we are “for peace,” but we do not know how to express our intention in any spiritually meaningful way. If these circumstances apply to you, permit me to suggest that I know of no better counteragent to the practice of violence than the practice to liberate its victims.

In our present state of mind, we may not be able to completely accept that a prayer has the power to liberate victims of wars, accidents, and other forms of violence. However, we must learn to trust and accept a Buddha’s word---which has never been broken in thousands of years. For example: the past Buddha Ratnaketu made a specific vow, stating, “May all who hear my name be liberated from rebirth in the inferior existences.” Similarly, one of the twelve vows of the Medicine Buddha, Bhaisajyaguru Vaiduryaprabharaja, demands that just hearing his name protects beings.

Thus, the following practice, which invokes the Buddha Tsonchei Mijigpai Gyalpo to relieve suffering, the Buddha Akshobhya to mitigate karmic consequences, and the Bodhisattva Vajrapani to protect, may be confidently applied to any beings we know, or have heard about, at any distance, near or far. It does not matter if those who have died are Buddhists or not, nor does time and space play any role. There is no limit to a Buddha’s compassion and no limit to a Buddha’s power. Although we usefully apply this practice within the first seventy-two hours following death, and through the forty-nine days of the intermediate stage between death and rebirth, it is also equally beneficial when applied to the long deceased. This practice is so powerful it will reach beings no matter where they may be.

The Prayer of Liberating Light is a gift from the mind of a Buddha to the Buddha-mind of mankind, shepherded by the boundless compassion of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and the intention of Choegyal Rinpoche.

Still, there is always some unpleasant news to report. Because he is an unrepentant thief, and has a black gift for twisting language, the Rinpoche in name only, Urgyan Tenpa, arrogantly corrected the translation of Choegyal Rinpoche’s practice, and wrote this poor excuse for his actions. On the great lunar tenth feast day, 3 September 2006, he caused this to be composed in the English language and printed for all sentient beings.


In the following liturgical text, I have used phonetics only where I am recording mantras or mantric syllables, or indigenously composed and culturally specific prayers. A perfect example is the famous Seven-Line Prayer. This is composed by Padmasambhava in seven lines of seven syllables, for future people in future times, to invoke Padmasambhava, who indeed founded Buddhism in Tibet.

In all other cases, I employ English. As this publication is primarily directed to those for whom English is the native language, it seems unnecessary and indeed counterproductive, to demand that the entire liturgy be performed in a language with which one has absolutely no connection. In such instance, one is mindlessly repeating sounds without any meaning. You may be confident that any Buddha, Bodhisattva, or Dakini can hear, understand, and respond to any language in which they are addressed.

Main Practice

Refuge (repeat three times)

namo ratna trayaya

I take refuge in the Tathagata Tsonchei Mijigpai Gyalpo, the Tathagata who liberates bardo beings from all fears and illusions arising from death by weapons.

I take refuge in the Tathagata Akshobhya.

I take refuge in Vajrapani.

Please pacify all the fears of those who have died in accidents and in war.

Arousing Bodhicitta (repeat three times)

To obtain Buddhahood for the benefit of others, I generate bodhicitta, as aspiration, as action, and in its absolute meaning.

Instructions and Visualizations

After you have recited the above, engage in meditation to generate profound feelings of compassion and equanimity toward all beings, without exception. Although this practice is primarily directed to humans, it is of immense benefit to all sentient beings. You can visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and recite OM MANI PADME HUM numerous times, until you are absolutely confident of your feelings.

Next, visualize the minds of those who have died in accidents and from weapons as blue balls of light, each enclosed by a surrounding sphere of violet light. While reciting the prayers and mantras hereafter, the violet spheres disappear and the minds, visualized as blue lights, are finally free. You may repeat the prayers and mantras below as many times as you wish, pausing for meditation between each in order to generate powerful feelings.

Prayer to Buddha Tsonchei Mijigpai Gyalpo

chom den dhe de shin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog pai sang gye tsonchei mijigpai gyalpo la chak tsal lo, kyabsu chio. jin gyi lhab tu sol.

Bhagawan, Tathagata, Arhat, Perfect Buddha. The One who liberates bardo beings from all fears and illusions arising from death by weapons, we prostrate to you. We take refuge. Please bestow your protection and blessings to all who have died in this manner.

Dharani of Buddha Akshobya

namo ratna trayaya om kamkani kamkani rotsani rotsani trotrani trotrani trasani trasani pratihana pratihana sarva karma parampara nime sarva sato nanyatsa sowha

Mantra of Vajrapani

om vajra chandra maha roshana hum phat,
om aprati hata vala hum phat,
sarva bhiganan antaraya vinashkara maraya hum phat.


The whole of existence is perceived as filled with the five wisdom lights; the luminous radiance of the fearless wisdom, love, and compassion of the Buddhas of all times and directions.

We speak directly to the liberated minds of the deceased beings and we remind them that all phenomena are illusory, including our concepts of living and dying. We remind the Buddhists among them to think of Buddha Amitabha, who will bring whoever prays to him directly to the Pure Land.

The practice ends with a dedication of merit and recitation of a concluding prayer:

I dedicate the merit of this action to the welfare of all sentient beings wandering in samsara, enduring sufferings of all kinds. May each and every one be free of wrongdoings and illusions. Following the path to supreme liberation, may they become filled with boundless joy, happiness, and wisdom.

May the hail of lava, fiery stones, and weapons
Henceforth become a rain of blossoms.
May those whose hell it is to fight and wound
Be turned to lovers offering their flowers.

May forests where the leaves are blades and swords
Become sweet groves and pleasant woodland glades.

On every side and in all the ten directions,
May groves of wish-fulfilling trees abound,
Resounding with the sweetness of the Teachings,
Spoken by the Buddhas and their Bodhisattva children.

Choegyal Rinpoche’s Colophon

May this teaching spread around the whole world so that in these times of war the mind streams of the dead will become free from fearful illusions. By the merit of this teaching and practice, may the loving and compassionate quality of their minds arise with clarity so that they will be reborn in a peaceful world, in heaven, or in Buddha fields. MANGALAM.

Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche’s Colphon

Every day in this world, delusion leads sentient beings to cause the death of each other, deliberately and by accident. This teaching, which has the power to liberate beings afflicted by the suffering born of such delusion, is dedicated to the welfare of all sentient beings, without exception. May it become for them a cause of happiness. May it never become a cause of sorrow. SAMAYA.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fire Update

There is a "more likely than not" assessment in force which indicates probable evacuation within 36 hours. Winds up to 40 mph are expected to rise, blowing the fire straight toward us. Presently, the greatest danger is from roving news crews, here from Los Angeles. We were interviewed by ABC Channel 7 this evening. Above is a photograph of what it looked like before the fire.

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"Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there." --- H.H. XIV Dalai Lama, 1985.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Sadness of Such Things

Somebody wanted to know more about the situation. As it stands now, 99,950 acres have burned: it will be well over 100,000 by the time you read this. Pine Mountain Buddhist Monastery has been evacuated, and most (about 90%) of the Wilderness is gone, along with more than half of the condor sanctuary. The air is "better," but because I am in the high risk group, I still have to stay indoors most of the time. The ecological effects of this unfortunate event will be felt for many years to come. You can say, with equal measure of grace and truth, that this is indeed an ecological disaster. Some people like to prattle on and on about "renewal," and "change," and so forth, and that is fine. But, a forest fire sparked by natural causes and a forest fire caused by a thoughtless idiot (as this one was), are two entirely different things. This thing burned up 50,000 acres in one night; last night it burned up another 10,000 or so, and it is only 35% contained. People hereabouts will see, in the future, that there are many changes. I am thinking that White Mahakala practice will be of use to everyone here.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Elements Imbalanced and/or Disturbed

When I sit and study the situation hereabouts, it becomes clear that the elements are disturbed. The region is alternately afflicted with fire and flood, flood and fire. There is also that "hot spot" I mentioned in a prior post. This is, in many regards, an ideal region; yet, we need to pacify the place before it becomes optimally habitable. I know of no better way to accomplish this than through the construction of a stupa, the emplacement of substantial prayer wheels, and the hanging of many prayer flags. The Native Americans, who inhabited this region for (who knows) 16,000 years, thought this general area to be a spiritual center. However, those who followed drilled this region for oil, and this without any mercy. When I study the scars on the hills and the life of the valleys, I realize the great beauty I see is but a shadow of former beauty. Like all fading beauty, some of the scars came with time, and some came with design. Thinking thus, I turn to the Kalachakra Tantra.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hot Spots

The fire has turned away from us and is now threatening a Zen Buddhist retreat center north of here. Quick! Somebody pacify the renegade fire element that is running around threatening Buddhists! Actually, it seems there are singular forces at work. Scientists have discovered an unaccountable "hot spot" near here, where it is 584 degrees farenheit, eleven feet underground. This "hot spot" covers around three acres, and is inexplicable.

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Lotus Crown

We hear all the time about the Black Crown. Well, above is Chokgyur Lingpa's Lotus Crown. I am a little silly, so every time I see the Lotus Crown, I always wonder what it would look like folded down. The thing is made the way it is for a reason: to cover the head and ears and shade the eyes; all necessary attributes at altitude, in the snow.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Fire Threatens Nyingma Outposts

Here is a Nyingma prayer:

"When our illusory bodies are threatened with danger and destruction because of obstacles of the elements of earth, water, fire, and wind;
"Without any doubt or question, I supplicate you, Orgyen, together with the four goddesses of the elements;
"Thus, there is no doubt that the elements will be self-pacified.
"I supplicate Orgyen Padmasambhava. Grant blessings for the spontaneous accomplishment of our wishes!

It would seem fires are threatening Tibetan centers and personalities in California today, north and south. Locally, we were evacuated at 3:30 a.m., and overnight, 50,000 acres were consumed around us. We are now staying in town, awaiting word regarding whether further evacuation will be necessary.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Treasure Vases

Here we commence to do a little shopping around for treasure vases (wildly popular in the Chinese communities). Above is Kusum Lingpa's version (apprx. $250.). Below are two of Lama Kunga's vases (the earth and wealth vases, respectively), followed by Lama Tharchin's version (the latter apprx. $450.). These are just a few examples. For the whole story, visit Khyentse Rinpoche's vase site.

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One Thousand Buddhas of the Fortunate Age

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Jigme Lingpa: Redux

A few days back, one of Jigme's little jewels was making the rounds of the blogs (albeit mistakenly translated). Guys named Earl, with the rebel flag on the pickup, were suddenly quoting the immortal discoverer of the Longchen Nyingtig. How joyous, y'all!

Here, with Earl in mind, are more quotations from the works of Jigme Lingpa:

"Sorrows are said to be the pyre for defilements;
this is something amazing.
As an example, even the sorrow of a mere dream
came to be an envoy,
inducing experiences and realizations.
Thereafter, I regarded sorrows and negative comments
as great powers."
(from Dancing Moon in the Water)

"Average people, blind with the cataracts of dimwittedness, not only have a heap of defiled, perverted behavior, but even produce proofs and charts about it, and present it as wonderful subject matter."
(from Dancing Moon in the Water)

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Red Tara Supplication

from Anyen Rinpoche's website:

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Tsara Dharmakirti Rinpoche

With profound respect to Tsara Dharmakirti (Chokyi Draka) Rinpoche (1916-2005)

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mayum Tsering Wangmo

May the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continue to rain upon her.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Orgyen Dzambala

Orgyen Dzambala

Dzambala torma on the traveling altar.

H.H. Kusum Lingpa is doing a Orgyen Dzambala empowerment in Los Angeles this week, so it seems appropriate (Melong is attending, last night and today).


Dzambala design from Ye Olde Torma Design Tome.

Has anybody done a torma book in English?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Three Dimensional Kalachakra Mandala

Here is a wonderful example, built in the U.S.A.

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Something Completely Different

There was a Swiss scientist, Dr. Hans Jenny (1904-1972) who built a device which allowed audio signals to animate matter and then record the results. The purpose was to study wave phenomena, which Jenny called "cymatics." Thus, above is Jenny's photograph of the vowel 'A' in sand. In other words, if you sort of beam the vowel 'A' at sand, the waveforms leave this result, which is very like a yantra. Now yantra is always considered the visible form of mantra, and this sort of photograph seems to be a kind of proof that the ancients knew what they were doing. I would like to see the results for OM AH HUM, so if anybody knows how to do this please let me know.

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September Eleventh

It seems mandatory to remark on the anniversary of September Eleventh, but in reality, as Yamantaka will testify, there have been myriad outrages committed every other day of the year. As history unfolds, it becomes increasingly necessary to replace conflict with accord.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Buddhist Vexillology, Part 2

Apart from its British use, noted above, this is also, interestingly enough, a "Rinpoche's Flag," indicating that a tulku is in residence. The custom seems to come from the so-called sPen.bad frieze ("penbe") that surmounts monastic and official buildings to denote that a tulku inhabits the structure. The penbe color is typically red ochre, whereas the flag can be red ochre, maroon, burgandy, or simply red.

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Buddhist Chaplain's Insignia

Above is the official Buddhist chaplain's insignia of United States military forces,
adopted 1990. The insignia is silver, one inch in diameter. Note that the official Buddhist military chaplain's flag as authorized by U.S. forces is a white Dharmachakra on a field of blue, 2' on the hoist, 3' on the fly, i.e. 2' x 3'

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Buddhist Vexillology

While we are on the subject of flags, permit me to note that while most people believe the Tibetan flag was designed by H.H. the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, it was in fact designed by the Japanese Buddhist priest Aoki Bunkyo in 1912, and transmitted to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama by Yajima Yasujiro, during his mission to Tibet 1913-1919.

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Not Starving

Chokyi Senge, the 12th Trungpa Tulku,
born 1989, pictured in June 1992.

Choseng Rinpoche, the 12th Trungpa Tulku,

as he appeared October 2004, aged 15.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Padmasambhava for Peace

There is a worldwide project to cast and place 25 large statues of Guru Rinpoche.

These are some 13 feet tall, and remarkably well done.

A few have already been placed, one of which is in Alameda, California, but

we certainly need more of them in America.
Cost of manufacture and shipping (from Nepal) is $10,000.00

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The Nyingma Seal

In 1968, H.H. Tarthang Rinpoche decided we should have a seal for the Tibetan Nyingmapa Meditation Center, then located on Webster Street in Berkeley, California. He invited me over one afternoon for lunch, and together we decided on the above design. The original artwork was done by Sherab Palden Beru, who was then in Scotland. When the artwork arrived, we decided to put a syllable in the center of the Dharma wheel. I suggested we use "OM," or "AH," and I used an X-Acto knife to cut out a small syllable and place it in the center. I then took the finished artwork to San Francisco to have negatives made. I have since seen others adopt this seal which is, as far as I am concerned, the Seal of the Nyingma Sect in the West, and is in any event protected by U.S. trademark. Yes, indeed, the Nyingma Seal is trademarked: serial number 72455697, registration number 1008177.

Rare photo of Sherab Palden Beru (right), artist who produced the Nyingma Seal.

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Hundred Syllable Mantra

The 100 Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva

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H.H. Kusum Lingpa's Stupa


(original post below)

This is His Holiness Kusum Lingpa's stupa, containing 108,000 volumes (among other treasures). I read where some misguided person wrote to the office of H.H. the Dalai Lama asking about H.H. Kusum Lingpa. With all respect, that is not the appropriate address. H.H. Kusum Lingpa is a terton, so in that regard, Padmasambhava has already answered all questions.

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Stupas in America

Odiyan Stupa at Sonoma County, California, 113 feet high; first large-scale stupa in America.

The Great Stupa at Colorado (holds relics of Trungpa Rinpoche).

Stupas at Maryland.

Stupa at Sedona, Arizona

First Stupa in America, Hawaii

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Mandala at the Smithsonian

Here is a Mandala of Healing and Protection, done at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

First American in Tibet; First Tibetans in America

Albert Leroy Shelton of Indiana (1875-1922)

Most people believe the first Americans in Tibet were Brooke Dolan II (1908-1945) and Ilya Tolstoy (1903-1970), in the OSS Expedition of 1942-1943. I do not believe this is true. One could argue that Joseph Francis Charles Rock (1884-1962) was the first man, crossing over the border from Yunnan (Harvard Expedition, 1924-1927). Rock was in fact an Austrian, who arrived in the United States in 1905 and was naturalized in 1913. Other early explorers were the botanists Frank Nicholas Meyer (1875-1918), who visited in 1913, and Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930), who wandered in 1906-1909. Yet, although both traveled on behalf of the United States, Meyer was a Dutchman and Wilson an Englishman. Among the first American women was Janet Elliot Wulsin, in 1921-1923. On balance, I do believe the first American in Tibet (Kham) was the Indiana-born Albert Leroy Shelton (1875-1922), who was in fact shot to death in a mountain pass whilst traveling to Lhasa at the invitation of the XIIIth Dalai Lama. According to the XIVth Dalai Lama, Shelton first entered Tibet in 1904. We note that he later took his wife and two daughters. Fifty-five years later, in a quirk of fate, some of the first Tibetans to be resettled in the United States--inclusive of the Dalai Lama's own brother--were sent to Shelton's home state of Indiana.

The Tibetan Trade Delegation, headed by Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa, at New Delhi to meet with U.S. Embassy officials, headed by George Merrell. Photograph at U.S. Embassy, 1946. Most believe the first Tibetans in America were the members of this delegation, which arrived in San Francisco, in July 1948. I have more photographs of all these events and will post them when technical protocols permit. This "blog" isn't working properly today.

Tolstoy, Dolan, and a group of unidentified lamas.

Dr. Joseph Rock

Gifts from President Roosevelt presented to Dalai Lama XIV by OSS Mission.

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The First Tibetan Temple in America

The first Tibetan Buddhist temple in America was manufactured in 1930, in Beijing, and thereafter installed at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. It was a reproduction of a temple in China (above).

In 1930, the American industrialist, Vincent Hugo Bendix (1882-1945), commissioned the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin (1865-1952) to oversee the construction of a replica of the Tibetan Buddhist temple at Jehol. My father (1900-1964), was also significantly involved with this project and I do recall hearing about this many times. I believe he became involved at the request of Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), with whom he did business. Initial cost of manufacture (in China) was $65,000., and ultimately, the entire project consumed $250,000., with Bendix paying the lion's share. Hence, the temple was known as the "Bendix Lama Temple," or variously, the "Jehol Temple."

Vincent Hugo Bendix (1882-1945)

Sven Hedin (1865-1952)

The temple was shipped in thousands of numbered pieces from Beijing to Chicago, and thereafter to the New York World's Fair. Like all aggregates, it has since dispersed. The Golden Temple Foundation, in Stockholm, had a subsequent interest, as did Oberlin College and a few private collectors. It is so very strange, but I saw some of the "missing" pieces from this temple in San Francisco, in 1968.

Visitors to the temple could purchase a commemorative book, various trinkets, and "Lama Incense" used at the temple.

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